The Customer Service Survival Kit

What to Say to Defuse Even the Worst Customer Situations

The Customer Service Survival Kit

Author: Richard S. Gallagher
Pub Date: March 2013
Print Edition: $17.95
Print ISBN: 9780814431832
Page Count: 208
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814431849

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Table of Contents


Foreword by Carol Roth xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1


Chapter 1 Understanding the ‘‘Uh-Oh’’ Moment 7

Why Worst-Case Scenarios Are Important 8

Good Intentions Are Not Enough 11


Chapter 2 Leaning Into Criticism 17

Step 1: Hand Their Complaints Back to Them 19

Step 2: Use ‘‘Wow’’ Words 20

Step 3: Steal All Their Good Lines 22

Step 4: Never Defend Yourself First 23

Why Leaning In Is So Hard 25

Putting Learning into Practice 27

Chapter 3 Achieving Deep Acknowledgment 28

Why We Don’t Acknowledge Demanding Customers 29

The Four Powerful Levels of Response 30

Acknowledgment: Your Key to Handling Any Situation 37

Putting Learning into Practice 38

Chapter 4 Avoiding Trigger Phrases 40

The Other Golden Rule 41

Trigger Phrases and How You Can Avoid Them 42

Less Is Often More 48

Putting Learning into Practice 49

Chapter 5 Divide and Conquer: The Safe Way to Deliver Bad News 51

Step 1: A Good Introduction That Prepares the Customer 52

Step 2: A Proactive Summary That Moves the Customer Toward a Solution 55

Step 3: An Empathetic Response to the Customer’s Reactions 57

Putting Learning into Practice 60

Chapter 6 Powerful Problem Solving: Beyond ‘‘Yes We Can’’ and ‘‘No We Can’t’’ 62

Step 1: Clarify the Other Person’s Needs 63

Step 2: Frame Your Response 64

Step 3: Create Incentives 67

Step 4: Respond to Objections 68

A New Way to Solve Problems 69

Putting Learning into Practice 70

Chapter 7 Reframing Your Message 72

How Reframing Works 72

When Reframing Is a Bad Idea 76

A New Perspective 78

Putting Learning into Practice 79

Chapter 8 Grounding an Angry Outburst 81

Understanding Customer Anger 81

Step 1: Use the Highest Acknowledgment Level Possible 83

Step 2: Ask Assessment Questions 86

Step 3: Shift the Discussion 88

Working in the Red Zone 92

Putting Learning into Practice 93

Chapter 9 Becoming Immune to Intimidation 94

Angry Customers vs. Toxic Entitlement 95

The Basics of Nonreactivity 97

Putting Nonreactivity to Work 101

Can Entitled Customers Change? 102

Putting Learning into Practice 103

Chapter 10 The Wrap-Up 105

Understanding Good Closings 105

The Right Ending: A Good Beginning 110

Putting Learning into Practice 110


Chapter 11 You’re the Boss 115

Lean Into the Customer’s Biggest Concerns 116

Ask Good Questions 117

Respond to Threats with ‘‘Can-Do’’ Language 119

The Law of Reciprocity 120

Chapter 12 Don’t You Know Who I Am? 121

Mirror the Customer’s Emotions 121

Explore the Options 122

Use the LPFSA 124

Show a Personal Interest 124

Chapter 13 The Concert That Never Was 125

Talk with the Customer First 126

Practice Creative Service Recovery 127

Respond to the Public 129

Chapter 14 I’ll Be Suing You 131

Do Not—Repeat, Do Not—Defend Yourself First 132

Explore Solutions 133

Frame the Benefits 133

Chapter 15 Quelling a Social Media Firestorm 135

Be Real 136

Be Quick 136

Reach Out to the Person Behind the Keyboard 137

Trust the Will of the Crowd 137

Chapter 16 Just Plane Terrible 139

Be Present 140

Deliver the Bad News in Stages 141

Reframe the Situation 142

Don’t Take It Personally 143

Chapter 17 Anger Management 145

Frame the Situation 145

Acknowledge Bruno 146

Frame Your Response 148

Execute the Endgame 149

Relationship Building 150

Chapter 18 Not So Smart 151

Meet the Customer Where He Is 151

Explore the Deeper Question 152

Make the Customer Feel Good 153


Chapter 19 When Talking Isn’t Enough: Keeping Yourself and Your Customer Safe 157

Situational Awareness: Trusting Your Gut 158

Reacting to Risk 160

Don’t Go It Alone: Have a Safety Plan 162

Chapter 20 From Customer Crisis to Excellent Service: Lessons for the Whole Organization 164

Creating a Service Culture 164

Managing Internal Conflict 166

Personal Growth 167

Communicating as an Organization 168

The Bottom Line 169

Appendix Solutions to Putting Learning into Practice Exercises 171

References 179

Index 183

About the Author 189

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